Siberian Birthmark

Birthmark on the Map is a Siberian based photo-blog featuring rural lifestyles from around the world. I’ve been invited to be their first foreign guest author with Postcards from Home.

Postcards from Home on Birthmark on the Globe – July 2011

Valery Klamm contacted me, passionate about photography and building bridges… he’s a photographer, writer and photo event producer living in Novosibirisk, Siberia, Russia.

In 2009 he began the photo blog Birthmark on the Map “Initially aimed at capturing daily life of the Novosibirsk region (small points on the map – villages, little towns), it is now turning into a rural Russia’ visual archive”. In the same year he was co-curator/producer of the photo blogs off-line break throughWE’,  an exibition from Photopolygon (citizen photojournalists’ community) .  WE is now traveling around the whole of Russia. The following year he started the Novosibirsk ‘Story-Tellers Photo Festival’.

Recently Valery decided it was time to start building bridges to other parts of the world, to take the Birthmark idea further and look for similarities of ‘rural-deep life’ elsewhere… I’m honored that Valery decided to contact me to be a part of ‘building bridges’ with his new section Birthmark on the Globe.

Below are some excerpts of work published by Birthmark on the Map photographers Valery Klamm, Alexander Kustov and Igor Lagunov…

I’m happy to share some of the photography from Birthmark on the Map and help ‘build bridges’ : ))



MASLYATA by Valery Klamm

Pictures from the life of adoptive families taken in the villages of Maslyanino, Elban’, Mamonovo and in the orphanage summer house for labor and vacations “Khomutina”. The name of “Khomutina” summer house comes from the Russian word “khomut” which means a horse’s collar: the house is at the bend of Berd’ river curving as a collar.

Woodshed in the adoptive family of the Tashkins. Elban’ village. Photo Valery Klamm

Dobrushka’s (Gooddy) Home. This is a magic place where the Kind Spirit of Khomutina makes children’s dreams come true.  Photo – Valery Klamm

A man who was brought up in Maslyanino Children’s Home (official name for orphanages in Soviet Russia) together with its inmates, boys and girls, has built on Khomutina’s territory Dobrushka’s (Gooddy) Home which looks like a big starling-house, fixed on a birch-tree over the fence.

This is a magic place where the Kind Spirit lives and he makes children’s dreams come true. Some of them dream of families, parents, homes of their own. Others say they don’t need it. Maslyanino Children’s Home was established in 1942, when children from the Blockaded Leningrad arrived to Maslyanino, the main town of the district.

Khomutina. Afternoon snack. Photo Valery Klamm

A few years ago there were more than 120 inmates in this Children’s Home, now there are 55 of them. The orphaned figures go down – some children have been adopted others have been taken to patronizing families. The champion in the number of adoptive families is the oldest village of the district – Elban’. More than a halve of the first-form pupils in the local school live in adoptive families. The Tashkins family is now bringing up four first-form adopted girls. People take care not only of the local orphans. The Head of Local Elban’ Administration and his wife have adopted a boy from Togutchin Children’s Home: they just saw his picture in a newspaper and decided “he is ours”!

Elban’. At the Postnikovs’ place: Zhenya, Elder Zhenya and Irina. The head of Elban’s Administration Eugenie Postnikov and his wife adopted a boy from Togutchin Children’s Home. They just looked at his picture in a newspaper and decided: he is ours. Photo Valery Klamm

At the Tashkins’ place. Nastya and Olya. Photo Valery Klamm

Children’s Homes’ inmates live with dramatic past, complicated present and vague future. Will they force their way through asphalt, will they break to the happiness in their lives? Or has the life already put a yoke on them? They get used to the commune life, they are self-dependant and sometimes tough but they turn towards the warmth. The youngest by all means lead the grown-up visitors by the hand. Adoption is the reloading of a child’s life program and fate. But the process is neither simple nor quick. Adoptive parents must be ready, and readiness here means patience and love.

The Kuzmenkos at the haymaking. Zhenya and Buyan Horse. Photo by Valery Klamm

When the Khomutina’s head Tatyana Yerokhina has to separate fighting children she tells them: you are just different. When adoptive parents lack patience and do not realize that all children are different an awful thing may happen: children come back to the Children’s Home. One restless little girl was sent back because she broke the parrot’s tail and spoiled her mother’s expensive cosmetics.

A practical man of about 12 years old lives in the village of Mamonovo in the family of Irina Sevastyanovna Kuzmenko. He was the one who forced his foster-grand-mother to adopt other children to their family. He said: Granny, our hut is big enough, let it be home for someone else. So they did and there is enough space and kindness for everybody.

Let all the children find their home and Dobrushka (Gooddy) bless all of us.

Maslyanino District, Novosibirsk Region, July 2008.

“Maslyata” photo session was committed by the Regional Centre for Development of Family Ways of Adaptation for Orphans and Children Devoid of their Parents’ Caring.

The exhibition “Maslyata” toured all over the Novosibirsk region.  Each time at the opening of the exhibition the specialists will be present who can answer any question concerning the items of juridical terms, psychological difficulties and the procedure of adoption and guardianship.  


Valery Klamm

Birthmark on the Map



Below: also published by Birthmark on the Map; photographers Alexander Kustov and Igor Lagunov



Alexander Kustov


From the series NOCITY  (a long-term personal project captured in villages near the author’s native one, Krasnoyarsk region, Siberia)

Alexander Kustov #1 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map

Alexander Kustov #2 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map

Alexander Kustov #3 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map






Igor Lagunov


From the series COUNTRY TOPICS captured in rural Altay (South Siberia) and Ural Mountains


Igor Lagunov #1 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map

Igor Lagunov #2 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map

Igor Lagunov #3 – as featured on Birthmark on the Map



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